Total Fuel Subsidy Removal Is A Must – Jonathan

0
283

President
Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday launched a fresh campaign to totally remove the
subsidy on fuel, barely a year after a similar campaign and forceful removal of
subsidy almost brought the country to a standstill. Jonathan
said only the total removal of subsidy on petroleum products would attract
investors to the oil sector and put an end to the importation of petroleum
products as it is currently being done.
About
this time last year, the President, in his budget estimates submitted to the
Senate, proposed total removal of subsidy on petroleum products and in spite of
public protests removed subsidy on January 1, 2012.

The
President’s action was greeted by spontaneous protests among the citizens.

A
mass action coordinated by civil society groups paralysed activities in the
country for about two weeks until the government backpedalled and announced a
partial removal. Per litre pump price of petrol was consequently reduced to N97
from the initial N141 under the zero-subsidy regime.
The
pump price of the product pre-January 1, 2012 was N65.
Jonathan
started the fresh campaign to totally remove subsidy while receiving the report
of the graduating participants of the Senior Executive Course 34, 2012, of the
National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, near Jos, at the
Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Why
is it that people are not building refineries in Nigeria despite that it is a
big business? It is because of the policy of subsidy, and that is why we want
to get out of it,” the President said.
Like
the President did late last year, he argued that while the total removal of
subsidy could be painful to Nigerians he said they would be happier at the end
if they could bear the initial pains.
Jonathan
said, “To change a nation is like surgery. If you have a young daughter of five
years who has a boil at a very strategic part of the face, you either as a
parent leave that boil because the young girl will cry or you take the girl to
the surgeon.
“So
you have the option of just robbing metholatum on the face
until the boil will burst and disfigure her face or you take that child to the
surgeon. On the sighting of a scalpel of the surgeon alone, the child will
start crying.
“But
if she bears the pains and do the incision and treat it, after some days or weeks,
the child will grow up to be a beautiful lady.
“There
are certain decisions that government must take that may be painful at the
beginning and people must be properly informed so that they will be ready to
bear the pains.”
Jonathan
said he believed that Nigeria could witness a turn-around within 10 years once
the right policies were put in place.
“I
believe that you do not need a lifetime to change a nation. Under 10 years,
Nigeria can change and people will not even believe that this is Nigeria again.
Immediately you come up with strong policies in key sectors of the economy and
keep it for 10 years, the change will be astronomical,” he said.
He
said Canada had 16 functional refineries and Nigeria has four that are
struggling to refine at 30 per cent of installed capacity because all the
refineries in Canada are privately-owned.
In
the aftermath of the January protests and in the desire to assuage ill feeling
of citizens over large scale corruption in the oil sector, Jonathan had
promised to probe the sector.
The
probe committee set up by the House of Representatives subsequently found that
oil thieves had defrauded the country of N1.7trn under the fuel subsidy regime.
Many suspects, including a son of the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party,
Mahmud Tukur, and children of other notable Nigerians and their companies, are
currently on trial for making claims for fuel not imported.
Curiously,
the nation has been suffering from acute shortage of fuel for almost two months
with filling stations selling, unofficially, at between N100 and N150 per
litre.
The
situation has also made critics to submit that the shortage, notwithstanding
official explanations, might be a design by the government to surreptitiously
increase fuel pump price in the new year.

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.